Fran Alexander - Biography
Keenly interested in art throughout her youth, Fran Alexander went on to study visual arts at the University of British Columbia, graduating in 1984 with a degree in Art Education. Her painting instructor and mentor at the time was none other than celebrated Canadian artist Gordon Smith, an influence that would inform her artistic sensibility in the years to come.
A shortage of jobs in the Vancouver area propelled Fran northward, where she would dedicate the next three years to teaching Inuit children in the town of Inuvik, Northwest Territories. This experience would foster a profound respect for native culture and the Canadian wilderness, and would also lay the foundation for future artworks.
The consummate adventurer, Fran left the tranquil isolation of the Arctic for the bustling metropolis of Toronto, where in addition to domestic and professional life, she continued to hone her technical skills and develop a deeply personal approach to image making.
After six years in Canada’s largest city, Alexander crossed the Atlantic in 1997 for the great artistic traditions of Europe. The fabled museums and galleries of France and Germany complemented her extensive education in the arts, and the combination of her formal training and life experience began to congeal. However, the rugged beauty of her beloved Canada beckoned, and she returned to her native land to fully realize her calling as an artist.
Relocating in Vancouver in 2005, Fran continued juggling motherhood, teaching, and her ever-evolving creative endeavours. Staying in one place for an extended period of time had the desired effect, and after relentless explorations into genres as varied as hyper-realism and abstract expressionism, Alexander’s painting began to solidify into a unique artistic vision: one that explored her love of country, love of nature, and love of expressive mark making and imagery.
Exhibiting opportunities came fast and furious, and Fran began to establish herself on the Canadian art scene. Over the past several years, she has shown her paintings in respected B.C. galleries, has received numerous awards, and has been selected for a number of prestigious residencies. She remains involved in arts organizations, has acted as a juror for painting competitions, and has generously donated her works to a number of charitable organizations. Her abstract and representational paintings are now included in private collections across the globe.
Fran Alexander – Artist Statement
Growing up and living much of my life in Canada, I developed a deep affinity for the rugged Canadian landscape, with its sublime diversity of climates, flora and fauna. From the mountains and rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, to the Arctic ice and tundra, to the Great Lakes and Canadian Shield, I have immersed myself in and have always cherished our great natural legacy. My Chinese ancestors made enormous sacrifices to immigrate and help build this country, and I am a typical Canadian in so many respects: proud of my heritage, and proud to be Canadian. This love of heritage and country periodically manifests itself in my art.
From a technical standpoint, I have always embraced new ideas and methods, pushing myself out of my comfort zone in order to learn and grow. This has led me to explore a spectrum of techniques: from the micro-strokes of hyperrealism to the looseness of large brush abstract expressionism, and a number of styles in between.
My current preoccupation is with expressionist depictions of wildlife, in tandem with my gestural abstract work. I have never wanted to be pigeonholed as a representational painter, nor as an abstract one. I move back and forth between the two genres, according to the needs of my current creative impulses and direction. My mantra when exploring unfamiliar artistic territory is “Risk spawns learning and growth—comfort spawns complacency.”
My goal is to create dynamic images that reveal but at the same time retain a sense of mystery, and somehow connect the subject, myself, and the viewer. Although I have my own notions about what my paintings mean, I dare not interfere with what the viewer might perceive and experience, since it is the emotive nature of art that gives it its power and magic.